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Lake Malawi and the Impact of Climate Change on Water Levels

12.2S 34.2E

April 23rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

Malawi – April 22nd, 2013

Lake Malawi (Lake Nyasa, or Lago Niassa in Mozambique), is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system, located between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The third largest and second deepest lake in Africa, it is also the ninth largest in the world. It is reportedly the habitat of more species of fish than any other body of freshwater, including more than 1000 species of cichlids, and was officially declared a reserve by the Government of Mozambique in 2011.

Sustainable water resources development of Malawi needs a thorough assessment of the impact of climate change on the future water levels of Lake Malawi because Lake Malawi together with its outflowing Shire river water system is Malawi’s most important water resource for hydropower generation, water supply for industrial and domestic use in the city of Blantyre and its surrounding urban areas together with irrigation water in the Lower Shire Valley (LSV). Any changes in the hydrological or ecological behaviour of the lake will have far reaching consequences on the economy of Malawi.

The results of sensitivity analysis of the WBM of Lake Malawi to climate change have shown that water level will continue to drop following a decrease in the rainfall season and an increase in evaporation rates from the lake. It further shows that it is very unlikely for the water level to increase to a maximum height of 477 m amsl as was in 1980 (click here for more information).

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